Just a joke, man

The people the Christchurch killer credited have no idea what he's talking about

After a white supremacist in Christchurch, New Zealand slaughtered 50 Muslims at prayer, the President of the United States, who was cited as an influence by the murderer himself, sent an anodyne condolence tweet. (He repeated this sentiment in a press conference, then went on about the threat of Mexican immigration.) Later, during one of his customary weekend social media fugue states, Trump retweeted slurs against Muslims by white nationalist Jack Posobiec, twice.

This weekend Trump also defended Judge Jeanine Pirro, one of Fox News’ more egregious demagogues. Pirro recently suggested that Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN), a Muslim and frequent target of conservative bile, was an enemy of the U.S. Constitution because she wore a traditional head covering. (“Is her adherence to this Islamic doctrine indicative of her adherence to Sharia law, which is antithetical to the U.S. Constitution?” she asked.) Pirro’s network, presumably under pressure by advertisers (shame being out of the question for Fox News), rebuked her publicly and then removed her show from their lineup. 48 hours after Christchurch, the President raved, “stop working soooo hard on being politically correct, which will only bring you down, and continue to fight for our Country.”

Another conservative favorite who was cited as an influence by the murderer was African-American wingnut Candace Owen, who had recently said publicly that “if Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, OK, fine.” Owens reacted to the murderer’s citation: “LOL! ???? I’ve never created any content espousing my views on the 2nd Amendment or Islam,” which is not true, and then tweeted, “If the media attempts this ‘Candace inspired a mosque shooting in New Zealand’ bit—they better all lawyer the f*ck up,” essentially threatening the press for reporting a fact confirmed by the shooter.

A number of idiots defended Owens on the grounds that the shooter was just making a joke when he endorsed her — “he probably name-checked her to troll people like you and me,” “it’s ‘very online,’ as the kids say,” etc. Many press outlets went for this argument, too — The New York Times said the shooter’s Owens claim “seemed intended as a joke” in an article titled “In Christchurch, Signs Point to a Gunman Steeped in Internet Trolling.”

Later on, perhaps to show that he did indeed have the sense of humor Owens' defenders claimed for him, the murderer while in custody flashed the “white power” sign, which as we all know from endless conservative chortles is just the “OK” sign and doesn’t really have anything to do with white power. (“The Left’s White Power Self-Own,” chuckled National Review’s Rich Lowry at Politico last fall when silly liberals thought Republican factotum Zina Bash doing it twice at Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate hearings actually meant anything.)

Inevitably, some nutty fringe figure suggested it was all a false flag, the mass murder actually committed by liberals to make conservatives look bad — the nutty fringe figure in this case being popular national conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh. “The idea that there is far more crazed right-wing terrorism in America than there is any other kind is nothing more than a media narrative manufactured out of whole cloth,” said Limbaugh — which is also, you will not be surprised to hear, a massive lie, because right-wing terrorism is by far the most common type of terrorism in America today. Then Limbaugh began asking questions, or rather Just Asking Questions:

There’s an ongoing theory that the shooter himself may in fact be a leftist who writes the manifesto and then goes out and performs the deed purposely to smear his political enemies, knowing he’s going to get shot in the process. You know you just can’t — you can't immediately discount this. The left is this insane...

Meanwhile the Usual Suspects were doing their Usual Bullshit. New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait was telling everyone the real problem was not white supremacists, but college students deplatforming white supremacists (“The radical tactic of deplatforming racists on campuses gave them the bad-boy allure of the forbidden they craved”). Chait was joined by Project Veritas asshole James O’Keefe, who had the hot news that Twitter was looking to ban hate speech from their platform, which is clearly a threat to the First Amendment, which protects white supremacists from losing their all-access pass to any social media platform they wish to infest. “If any tech insiders want to talk to us, reach out http://www.projectveritas.com/brave,” O’Keefe said.

Bruce Bawer, the second-string Andrew Sullivan, warned the massacre “should not serve as an excuse to silence frank discussion about Islam and mass immigration.” Bawer denied that the murderer of 50 Muslims was a white supremacist, and said his killing spree was “an expression of rage about the steady repopulation of Europe by believers in an alien ideology and practitioners of a radically foreign culture — a legitimate concern,” before generously adding, “though by no means a legitimate excuse for [his] actions.” Also, Bawer said, the killer was an “enviromentalist... and a fierce supporter of trade unions and ‘workers’ rights’ — details that you probably won’t hear much about during the next few days.” Ain’t that like the liberal media! Hell, maybe Rush was right — guy sounds like Kamala Harris, except for the mass-Muslim-killing part.

Meanwhile other would-be white supremacist murderers are occasionally getting hauled in over here — “Authorities have arrested 54 members of a white supremacy gang that is accused of multiple acts of violence, including attempted murder, kidnapping and maiming,” reported CBS affiliate THV11 in Little Rock, Arkansas. It’s been a while since our last homeland massacre — it was Thousand Oaks in November, I had to look it up; I bet a lot of you forgot, or thought it was the rightwing guy (“Screw your optics, I’m going in”) who shot up that Pittsburgh synagogue in October. Sooner than later we’ll have another, and when we do I’m confident that the reaction will be similar to this one, except if the perp has rightwing bona fides — or is just joking or trolling or shitposting that he has them, you know how kids are today! — the conservatives who inspire him will be even more aggrieved and belligerent that anyone would blame them than they are now, especially if the killer names them specifically, and insist that they — not the Muslims, Jews, blacks, gays, or whatever target the white supremacist picks — are the real victims. And hope we keep falling for it.